As our community continues to face a tight economy and shrinking budgets, the Daily Record has established this page that will each week chronicle the efforts of local nonprofit organizations. Bailey Publishing & Communications invites all members of the local nonprofit community to submit news, announcements, success stories and any other information they feel would be of interest to our readers. E-mail to: [email protected].
We also encourage our readers to become more aware of the needs of these worthy organizations as they try to continue to provide valuable services with reduced resources.
Two nonprofits changing lives
Operation New Hope is a not-for-profit community development corporation that works to revitalize and sustain economically and ethnically diverse communities in Jacksonville’s urban core. It achieves this by rebuilding communities one house and one life at a time.
Founded in 1999 by its president, Jacksonville native Kevin Gay, Operation New Hope has two primary missions: building affordable houses and rebuilding the lives of ex-offenders.
The housing division, ONH Development, develops affordable single family homes for first-time buyers in targeted neighborhoods of Springfield and East Jacksonville. ONH Development has constructed more than 75 homes and is the only community development corporation in Jacksonville that is building both Energy Star-rated and LEED certified homes. These types of homes enable homeowners to save money on energy costs and contribute to the positive environment of the community at large. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the industry’s highest energy rating providing a healthy, comfortable, durable, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible residence. Additionally, these homes have contributed to an increase of $11.5 million in investment and property tax revenue for Jacksonville.
Ready4Work assists with the re-entry efforts of ex-offenders who have completed incarceration and wish to find long-term gainful employment in the local community. Gay believed that a new model for community development was necessary to bring hope back to the hopeless. A decade later the Ready4Work division has been recognized by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama for its work and has celebrated the successful re-entry of 1600 ex-offenders.
Clinton mentioned Ready4Work in his book, “Giving,” with this quote: “Just one in 20 of its participants is arrested within a year of release, compared with one in five of all those who are released from Florida’s prisons.”
In 2002, Operation New Hope was chosen by President George W. Bush to implement Jacksonville’s Ready4Work program funded through the White House Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives. Today, the Ready4Work program serves as the model for re-entry programs in Florida and across the United States. Ready4Work’s success has produced a recidivism rate that is 50 percent better than Jacksonville’s and the state of Florida’s, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in criminal justice costs.
Ready4Work participants are between 18-45 years of age. They must attend career development courses, participate in a life coaching program for one year, pass random drug tests and pay all applicable fines, restitution and child support assessments as required by law. The four-pronged approach of case management services and client assessment, employability skills training and life skills, employment referral and job placement plus follow-up services has proven to be very successful.
There are many opportunities for both donors and volunteers. Ready4Work seeks volunteers to participate in its life coaching program as well as businesses which can support the organization by providing jobs for Ready4Work graduates. There are also new market tax credit opportunities for businesses that make donations to the organization.
Target supporting literacy program
Children’s Home Society of Florida’s (CHS) Buckner Division received $3,000 from Target for its Healthy Families St. Johns “Read to Me” program.
The money was awarded through Target’s Community Grants and will be used to start the “Read to Me” program to assist parents with teaching their children how to read while making it fun. Each family will receive a reading resource kit that will include appropriate books, instructional videos, weekly reading logs and resource information such as local programs, libraries and services related to reading.
CHS’ Healthy Families program is part of Healthy Families Florida. It is a voluntary home-visiting program focusing on giving parents the techniques to handle stress rather than resort to abuse as well as the skills to be better examples to their children. The St. Johns Program serves 86 families.
Chartered in Jacksonville in 1902, the Children’s Home Society is dedicated to embracing children and inspiring lives. Every day, Children’s Home Society works to restore and strengthen families through its various programs and services such as adoption, foster care and child abuse prevention programs. For more information about CHS visit www.chsfl.org/buckner.
Practice makes perfect
Local celebrities in this year’s “Dancing with the Stars” competition have not only agreed to learn how to dance, look good doing it and sell an audience, but have also committed themselves to raising money for this year’s benefiting charity of the competition, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Local celebrities are raising money through many creative outlets, but one has just taken the lead in a big way thanks to a corporate contribution made in his behalf.
CSX Transportation will present a check for $10,000 in support of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Frank Mackesy Thursday to representatives of the JDRF North Florida Chapter. The contribution will go toward further funding research of type 1 diabetes and its complications while also making CSX Transportation a presenting sponsor of the competition and adding major votes in the ballot box for Mackesy and his professional ballroom dance partner, Megan Wallace.
Jacksonville’s “Dancing With the Stars,” set for Nov. 7 at Boleros DanceSport Center, will follow a similar format as the national television program, having local celebrities paired with professional ballroom instructors from A Social Affair Dance Studios who have committed to practice for months in order to learn the seven required dance routines.
Individual tickets for the event are $100 and include dinner provided by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, music from A Class Act band, dessert bar from Three Layers A Coffee House, a complementary drink, dancing throughout the evening and a chance to vote for celebrities. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.asocialaffair.net/DWTS/index.html. For additional information contact Susan Ferry at 814-0350.
Fondue to help kids
The Melting Pot raised more than $800 for daniel kids during their monthly Ladies’ Night Out fund-raising event held July 18. Though the restaurant chain is well-known for their national philanthropy, owner Dan Addison sought a way to give back to the local community.
“This is the first time that we’ve ever held the event for a Jacksonville charity and we are thrilled to be supporting a wonderful organization like daniel,” said Addison. “It’s nice to know that even in these tough economic times our community will sacrifice to help those in need.”
The Melting Pot collected prizes that were donated by local businesses including Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery and Massage Bliss & Day Spa, then raffled them off throughout the evening with the proceeds going to assist the abused and neglected children at daniel.
Daniel is Florida’s longest-serving children’s agency. Originally established as an orphanage in 1884, daniel has evolved into a multi-service agency that assists more than 1,500 abused, neglected and emotionally troubled children and their families each day through a variety of innovative and nationally recognized programs.